Barack Obama has chosen artist Kehinde Wiley to paint his presidential portrait for the Smithsonian, and it will probably end up being the coolest portrait of a president there (okay, Kennedy’s is pretty cool, too). Wiley, who is the first black artist to paint a presidential portrait for the Smithsonian, paints black men and women in the style of classical paintings, often in front of a millefleur tableau.
And because the paintings are based on works from Renaissance and Baroque eras, many of Wiley’s subjects are seen on horseback. Which might be a cool as hell choice for Wiley to make with Obama’s portrait, even if it would result in some Republican eye-rolls.
Though Wiley often paints ordinary men and women, he isn’t a stranger to making portraits of famous people. Previously he’s painted the Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Michael Jackson.
Michelle Obama also picked a black painter, Baltimore artist Amy Sherald, with her own striking contemporary style. Both paintings will be unveiled next year, according to Jezebel.
“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, in a statement to The Los Angeles Times. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”
Definitely worth a trip to the museum, right?